Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Over a Barrel in Niagara

Last year around this time I was in cold, snowy Niagara Falls (NIAGARA FALLS! Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch...) to help cover the World Poker Tour Fallsview Classic. It was a fun trip -- coinciding with Canada winning that gold medal in Sochi -- and as I’d never been before those majestic, ice-filled falls were certainly something to see.

I didn’t make it back this year (the $5K WPT Main Event gets going in a couple of days). Like most of you I have heard this story about the $1,100 preliminary event and the ticket scalping that went on -- something pretty unusual to hear about in tournament poker, though apparently not unique at Fallsview.

If you haven’t heard that story, you can read about it here. The combination of a tournament for which entries were capped, transferable entry tickets, and no alternates added up to entries being sold for more than the buy-in by enterprising “scalpers” -- with some apparently going for as much as $1,800.

I enjoyed reporting on the WPT there last February, and was unaware of the scalping that had occurred at a prelim then, too, but which didn’t affect the Main Event. I was quite aware, however, of all of the restrictions in place on both players and media thanks to local gaming regulations. No pictures or videos can be taken in the tournament area, nor are players allowed to use their smart phones at all at the tables.

We obviously could report on the tournament without providing photos or videos. And players could play without tweeting, texting, or Facebooking, too. But it did create a very different, archaic-seeming vibe, and makes the apparent abuses associated with the “scalping” of tourney entries seem all the more incongruous amid such a restrictive setting.

Stepping back from the story, it’s curious to consider even the possibility of securing tournament entries and finding buyers willing to pay more than face value to participate. I read stories of some who had traveled there to play the event, though, and who were thus in a difficult spot when it turned out the only way to play was to pay more than they’d expected.

Sort of creates a situation in which some players are (in a way) firing more than one time (e.g., like 1.5x) without the event being a re-entry. And, importantly, without the added amount being paid going into the prize pool.

Skews the whole risk-reward ratio, that. Then again, still better than actually going over the falls in a barrel, I imagine.

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Blogger GarethChantler said...

Having played there I can assure you the people of the poker room have no idea what they are doing. Law of unintended consequences will be a highfalutin phrase to many of them.

2/11/2015 9:24 PM  

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